Is Your Dog Rolling in Poop?

It's not unusual to see a dog rolling in poop, and it's not pleasant, either! When we see this, our immediate reaction is disgust; how could they?

However, if we take a step back and think about it from our dog's point of view, perhaps we begin to see the logic for their distasteful victory rolls! Learn why dogs indulge in this disgusting habit and what you can do to stop them.

My Dog Rolls in Poop, Is This Normal?

Believe it or not, like it or not, a dog rolling in poop is normal doggie behaviour.

Most of us will, at some point, witness our dogs rolling in poop or something equally smelly and disgusting.

Golden cocker spaniel dog rolling in poop, on the grass.Cocker Spaniel rolling in poop

They seem to delight in it, whether it's fox poo and pee, cow pats, or dead and rotting carcases.

Dogs have been rolling in poop for years; they're unlikely to stop now! However, you may be able to control it better.

Why Do Dogs Roll in Poop?

There are many theories about why dogs roll in poop, but I've yet to find a definitive answer; no one's exactly sure why they do this, but they sure as heck love it!

Let's explore why they may want to indulge in a quick roll in poo. Some of the theories I've come across are listed below.

To Mask Their Own Scent

Your dog may be trying to mask his scent.

Many believe it's an instinctual behaviour, a throwback to the wild when hunting.

Dogs would roll in other animal poop, usually, their prey's poop, to camouflage their own smell. This would allow them to sneak up on their prey without being detected.

Wolves still do this today to help cover their scent during a hunt.

I've Found Dinner!

Sometimes dogs roll in carrion to take the scent back to their pack to let them know that they've found something good to eat - dinner's on them!

On the other hand, the dog could be marking the carrion with their own scent to let potential scavengers know that the kill is theirs.

Although our dogs no longer have to hunt for food, the trait remains.

Dogs Rolling in Poop: Territorial Marking?

I'm less convinced about this theory, but it's still worth considering.

It's thought that the dog is marking this area with his scent and claiming it for himself; territorial marking.

I'm not convinced because if your dog wanted to leave his scent behind, he could pee in that spot; it's what they would typically do.

Max seems to pee on everything he encounters on his walks!

However, dogs rolling in poop rather than marking are more likely to cover the scent of other dogs, claiming the territory for themselves.

They May Love The Smell!

Or should I say they don't like the scented bubble baths we give them?

Most dog shampoos and sprays are heavily scented to cover any suspect aromas arising from your dog's coat. Unfortunately, dogs don't like to smell clean and perfumed.

A gorgeous Cocker Spaniel puppy lying inside a sun hatI don't roll in poop!

Our Cocker Spaniels prefer to smell a bit more rank than sweetly scented, which could be why one of the reasons for dogs rolling in poop.

They prefer to smell of rotting food, week-old kitchen waste, dead bunnies, and poop. Any poop will do.

Although they're not fussy, dogs tend not to roll in their own poo (although they may eat it!).

They dislike what we term pleasantly scented. This may explain why you often see your dog rolling in poop shortly after you've bathed your pooch or had your dog to the groomers!

Dogs Rolling in Poop Because They're Bored?

If your dog's rolling in poop, and you don't think any of the above explanations fit, he could be bored; nothing more complicated than that!

I have no other explanation for it; however, I don't think I could ever get so bored that I'd want to roll in poop!

How To Stop Your Dog Rolling in Poop

Stopping your dog rolling in poop may not be easy, it is possible, but you'll need to work at it. You might like to consider some of the following:

  • Pick up your dog's poop as soon as he does it - logic says if it's not there, he can't roll in it!
  • When you take him for a walk, keep your dog on a leash - that way, you are in control.
  • It will be helpful if your dog is good at returning when you call him. (Another good reason for teaching your Cocker Spaniel to have a strong recall!).
Dog rolling in poop 3If your dog rolls in poop you can teach him to stop
  • Watch your dog like a hawk when he's outside doing his business. If he's mastered the recall command, he should do as you ask without hesitation. If you see him hovering or sniffing in the same spot for longer than usual, immediately call him back before he has a chance to begin rolling.

    Leave it too long, and you may be unable to stop him. You'll be too late.

    When he returns, reward your dog handsomely; give him a treat and lots of praise.
  • Another handy tip is to keep a tea towel or small hand towel in the dirty laundry basket so that it picks up all the family's (your dog's pack) scent.

    Use this towel to wipe over your dog's back before you go for a walk, and he may not feel the need to roll around in the muck. I've no evidence that this works, but it's worth a try.

  • You might consider using a rattle tin (a sealed tin or bottle with pebbles or small coins). Shake this to shock your dog out of the moment and then call him back. This only works well if your dog is near enough to you to react to it.

    NB: You really need to take advice from a dog trainer if you plan to use this as they can cause aggression if not used properly.
  • An alternative to a rattle-tin is a water pistol. Squirt your dog with water each time he moves to roll in the poop, and eventually, he'll learn that unpleasant things happen to him when he rolls in poo, and he will stop.

Rolling in Poop: Correction Timing

The timing of your dog's correction is vital.

Catch your pet just as he's about to roll in the poop to make sure he associates the squirt of water with rolling in poop.

A word of warning though, you need to be sure that your dog is about to roll in the muck and not about to pee or poop as he may think he's being chastised for doing his business.

If your dog believes he's being chastised or punished for going potty, he may begin to mess in the house and in secret.

Good luck! 

Visitor Comments: Dogs Rolling in Poop

Fox poop
By: Cocker Claire

Hi, Can anyone tell me if fox poop is dangerous to our cocker puppy; his eyes, stomach, etc? Thanks!

Dangers of Fox Poo
By: Pauline
Website Owner

Hi Cocker Claire!

Just like many other animals, foxes can carry parasites and spread disease. Although the threat of rabies was at one time real, nowadays, it is rare.

You're right to be concerned, but if you bathe your dog following contact with a fox, or its pee or poop, your dog should be fine.

Also, if a fox has been in your garden or yard, it's wise to clean that up too.

As long as you keep your dog up to date with his vaccinations, flea treatment and worming treatment, I think he'll be safe enough.

Here's a link to a website that will give you lots more information: Fox Project.

Hope this helps!

Cocker Spaniel Rolling In Poop!
By: Anonymous

My cocker spaniel often rolls in poop. I've put it down to the fact that my dog is just so happy to be running out in the fields, and he likes to smell bad!

I'm fed up with having to bath him, and I don't think it's good for his coat.

I wash him in a particularly fragrant shampoo. Perhaps that's why he does it? I'll try changing his shampoo to a non-scented version.

Thanks for a great article!

Photo Credits for Is Your Dog Rolling in Poop?
1. Author's own photo.
Richard Munckton at -
Robert and Pat Rogers -